A reorganization of two major departments in Arkansas City was approved this week by city commissioners.

The new departments will be Public Services and Environmental Services. Public services will manage parks, facilities and sanitation divisions. Environmental services will oversee water distribution and collection, the water treatment and wastewater plants.

The revamp eliminates the Public Works and Parks and Facilities departments, and the positions that currently oversee them.

Current parks and facilities director Tony Tapia will take over the Public Services Department; Rod Philo, the environmental services superintendent, will head the new Environmental Services Department.

The current head of public works, Mike Crandall, will take a new management assistant position that will assist both new divisions.

Part of the reason behind the revamp is to help recruit new employees and retain current ones, city officials said.

The changes approved Tuesday also include increasing the pay scale of supervising employees and adding a position to help assist both departments.

Supervisory positions for water distribution and collection, and for wastewater treatment will be increased from grade 26 to grade 27. Grade 26 carries a maximum hourly rate of  $27,49; the top end for grade 27 is $28.76.

Human resources manager Marla McFarland said the salary increases and reorganization are necessary to help the city to keep current employees long term and help recruit new employees.

She said posted positions for water distribution and collection supervisor had not received any applicants.

“We have looked at surveys and posted positions for the water distribution and collection supervisor and haven’t gotten any applicants,” she said. “So we are looking at the data.”

City Manager Nick Hernandez said the distribution and collection supervisor job has become difficult to fill across the state and even nationally; cities are having to pay much higher wages to hire qualified candidates.

“It takes a lot of years to get the experience to do it, and it’s a very demanding job,” he said.

The reorganization is expected to save more than $50,000 per year, according to city staff.

Hernandez said the new management position would be a maximum of 30 hours per week at grade 24. Crandall’s primary duties will be assisting with paperwork, project tracking and other duties as needed.

“It will just be kind of a catch all for those departments,” Hernandez said.

The reorganization changes were approved and will become effective Saturday.

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